One of the great things about this little town we live in is the annual fair. The roads around the downtown area get closed off and the carnival rides get wheeled in. Deep fried Twinkies, elephant ears, rides I’ll never ride and games I’ll never play. Along with all the typical awesomeness of having a FREE fair, is the 4H aspect. Over at the fairgrounds are multiple barns, full of horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, chickens, pigs and many other breeds.
Of course, this is where Tyler wanted to be. He petted horse after horse after donkey after mule and never tired of it. In the pig pens, he had to place his hand on darn near every single pig in there. He pet many animals and loved it. As we walked from barn to barn we mentioned the animals that were coming up. We neared the final barn and asked Tyler if he was ready to see the cows.
“Ohhhh yes,” he replied, happily skipping/running along.
I don’t know the different breeds of cows, so I don’t know if we walked into a dairy barn or some other “cow barn”. All the cows were standing, facing away from us. So, we had a beautiful view of many, many cow butts. Tyler continued ahead of Sarah and I, looking up in awe of the huge creatures. I walked ahead of Sarah to catch up with Tyler. She had just moments ago told him to be careful around the animals. I took another step closer, slightly blocking Sarah’s view, as Tyler suddenly turned and placed his hand on a cow’s leg.
They saw that when tragedy strikes, everything slows down.
In less than one full second, I watched the cow’s hoof kick out and strike Tyler in his chest. In that same one second, I watched Tyler get thrown six foot backwards. I watched his head and legs jolt forward as his body propelled back.
It’s amazing, the details you notice in only one second. Like the fact that the cow’s hoof had already been returned to its original position while Tyler was still in the air.
His head suddenly snapped back when his body slammed into a stack of hay. I heard the metallic clang as his neck and skull hit the metal pail on the ground.
And then I went blind. I distinctly remember running to Tyler, but my brain couldn’t process the visuals. I was blind to the world, but seeing everything. I knew that he would be unconscious. I just didn’t know how bad it would be.
All in one eternal second.
I picked him up, but still my brain either wouldn’t or couldn’t allow me to see what was happening. A thought entered my head that I shouldn’t touch or move Tyler, yet I still lifted him to me, embracing him.
I heard him draw a deep breath, then begin screaming. Unable to move, I stood there and held him, asking if he was ok. In another sobbing scream, he yelled “yeeeeeeeeeeah,” in response. I felt Sarah next to me, putting her arm around Tyler while trying to push me a little further away from the cow. I whispered “I’m sorry” into Tyler’s ear.
He screamed again.
Sarah asked if she could look at him to see if he was hurt. He tightened his arms around my neck and said no. We all stood there for a couple minutes. When Tyler’s hitching sobs slowed, I stood him on a wooden chest nearby, so we could look at him. The muddy hoof-print on his sweatshirt showed us where to start. There was no mark. He did have a scrape under his eye, which we can’t explain. I picked him up again and held him tight, kissing his head over and over again. As we walked, Sarah found the cure to Tyler’s ailment.
Whispering in his ear, she asked, “Ty, do you want some cotton candy?”
I spent the next fifteen minutes, eating pink and blue cotton candy with Sarah and Tyler. The entire time, I wondered how it was possible that I saw what I saw and my son has little more than a scrape on his cheek that he says “hurt a liddle bit.” I watched him SHOVEL handfuls of cotton candy in his mouth, and “ooh” and “ahh” with Sarah at some horses walking by, befuddled that we weren’t presently rushing to the hospital with a limp and unconscious child.
Later, at home, Tyler asked, “Daddy, why a cow kick me?”
“Well, Tyler, you know how when we see a fly near our food and we tell it to go away and wave our arms at it?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Well, when you touched the cow’s leg, it tickled him a little bit. He didn’t know you were a boy because he couldn’t see you. The cow thought you were a fly and tried to kick you away. He didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“My cheek ouchie. Why cow hurt me?”
“Why did I just tell you, buddy?”
“Cow think I a fly.”